As far as I can tell, the Select program has two main advantages: the ability to lend your books free to Kindle owners and the opportunity to make participating titles free for 5 days every 3 months. On the surface, this may not sound like much, especially when you consider that you must agree to sell your ebooks exclusively on Amazon for the duration of your enrollment. That means no BN, Smashwords, iBookstore, or other venues.
Before entering Select, Amazon already represented 90 percent of my earnings. Why? It’s not for lack of trying on my part. The sad fact is that there are far fewer marketing opportunities available for other venues. I’ve tried what I could find, but those promotions just did not get results for me. In addition, Smashwords expanded distribution reports sales only once a quarter, and it has a 3 month delay, meaning I have no idea how well my marketing worked for 3 to 6 months after the promotion has occurred. For that reason, I’ve always viewed Smashwords as icing on the cake. BN is hit or miss for me. Other writers seem to make money there, but I’ve only had 1 month of significant sales at BN in the last year and a half. Most of my search keywords don’t work on their website, so it’s almost impossible for readers to stumble on my book. I’ve run out of ideas. If anyone has some, I’m open!
Back to Amazon: For the past two months, my royalty from the lending program alone made up for the money I expected to earn from all other venues combined. Then, when I throw in the marketing boost provided by the giveaway days, Amazon absolutely blew away the competition. The visibility provided by those free days gave all my books a huge boost in sales that peaked about 2 days after the giveaway and endured about 2 weeks before dropping to my prior sales numbers. By far the best marketing available.
So what does that mean? It means that at the present time, KDP Select has won me over. While I hate the idea of making my ebooks exclusive to one seller, I have to look at this from a business perspective. I have a mortgage and bills, and I have no other income. Books are my livelihood. (Wow!) And this is overwhelmingly the best financial decision in the current book climate.
In an ideal world, the other retailers would be providing the same feedback and ease of marketing that Amazon does, and it would be wise for me to sell everywhere. But that’s just not the case. At the moment, my plan is to release my books for (at least) 1 month at all venues before enrolling them in the KDP Select program. I care a great deal about customer service and pleasing my readers, and I want everyone who has started the Personages of Pride and Prejudice Collection or the Southern Fraud series to have the opportunity to buy the latest release. And paperbacks will always be available.
So that’s the current plan based on my past 2 months of sales figures. I’ll be reassessing monthly, and the moment something changes, I change. No matter what, it will be interesting to see how things change in the coming year.
Incidentally, I’ll be blogging over at Indie Jane on Friday about some other aspects of the Select program. And for further reading, please check out J. A. Konrath’s blog post about Amazon and its business practices.